Governor signs bill easing motorcycle helmet requirements

Of the many bills annually brought before the Missouri legislature, those aiming to eliminate the mandatory motorcycle helmet law frequently meet contention. Proposals to loosen requirements have circulated for years. Yet, concern about the health risks for bareheaded riders prohibited change.

Last year, Governor Mike Parson vetoed a bill that would have allowed anyone older than age 18 to ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet. The 2019 bill also faced opposition by both medical and insurance groups, who asserted that allowing bikers to ride without a helmet was an invitation for expensive tax-funded medical care for head trauma and increased fatalities.

According to the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, an increase in brain injuries and biker deaths commonly results in states that repeal their all-rider helmet laws. However, change is in the wind.

Some bikers will soon have a choice

Starting August 28, certain bikers will have the freedom to choose whether to wear a helmet while riding. Related considerations include:

  • Licensed bikers must be at least 26 years old to ride without a helmet. Meanwhile, these changes will not affect younger riders.
  • Health insurance to cover the costs of potential motorcycle-related injuries will become mandatory. Law enforcement officers may ask for proof of coverage during a traffic stop. However, they cannot pull a biker over merely to verify whether they maintain an appropriate policy.

Upcoming changes to local helmet laws may not be enough for some motorcycle activists and clubs. However, these revisions allow bikers more choice when they ride.

How will revised laws affect the state’s safety statistics?

Motorcycle accident data collected over the upcoming riding seasons will shed light on the wisdom of legislative efforts to balance safety with rights. Meanwhile, drivers should expect to remain bound by motor vehicle safety laws.

Regardless of the type of vehicles involved, negligence that results in motorcycle accidents could come at a cost. Yet, as always, buying adequate health insurance is a wise first step for anyone who wants to take their bike onto the open road.